Depression of 1882–85

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Comparison of major 19th and early 20th century recessions
Recession Length[1] Business activity[2]
Depression of 1873–79 65 mos. -33.6%
Depression of 1882–85 38 mos. -32.8%
Depression of 1893–94 17 mos. -37.3%
Recession of 1907–08 13 mos. -29.2%
1921 recession 18 mos. -38.1%

The Depression of 1882–85 or Recession of 1882–85 was a recession in the United States that lasted from March 1882 to May 1885, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. At 38 months in length this is the third-longest recession in the NBER's chronology of business cycles from 1854 to present. Only the Great Depression and Long Depression of 1873–79 are longer.[1]

Like the Long Depression that preceded it, the Recession of 1882–85 was more of a price depression than a production depression.[3] From 1879 to 1882 there had been a boom in railroad construction. In 1878 workers built 2,665 miles (4,289 km) of railroad. By 1882 this figure had quadrupled to 11,569 miles (18,619 km).[4] In 1882 this trend reversed, resulting in a decline in railroad construction and a decline in related industries, particularly iron and steel.[3] A major economic event during the recession was the Panic of 1884.

Economic data from the era are very spotty. Much of what is known comes from the reporting of the business newspaper the Commercial & Financial Chronicle.[3] In terms of severity, according to Victor Zarnowitz, indexes of business activity show that the recession was not as severe as the declines in 1873, 1893, and 1921, but was more severe than the other recessions between the American Civil War and the Great Depression.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions". National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved January 4, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Zarnowitz, Victor (1996). Business Cycles: Theory, History, Indicators, and Forecasting. University of Chicago Press. pp. 221–26. 
  3. ^ a b c Fels, Rendigs (1952). "The American Business Cycle of 1879-85". The Journal of Political Economy. 60 (1): 60–75. doi:10.1086/257151. JSTOR 1826297. 
  4. ^ Glasner, David; Cooley, Thomas F., eds. (1997). "Depression of 1882–1885". Business cycles and depressions: an encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 0-8240-0944-4.